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Dec 7, 2021 | Blog

How To Clean A Cooling Tower For Energy Efficiency

A cooling tower can have a big impact on energy efficiency. This article gives tips on how to clean, inspect, and maintain the tower so it will operate at maximum efficiency.

An enormous amount of energy is drawn by cooling towers for reducing the temperature of water used in industrial and commercial applications.

However, dirty ones pull in more energy. You can reduce energy consumption and restore efficiency by cleaning your cooling tower. This post will help you understand how to clean your cooling tower for reducing your utility bill. 

How Cooling Towers Work

A cooling tower is a heat exchanger system that is designed for reducing the temperature of water used in industrial and commercial applications. The process lets out waste heat absorbed by the cooling of the water stream in the atmosphere. 

Commercial cooling towers make use of water evaporation to remove heat from the water and cool the working fluid. These systems let out heat in the air.

Closed-circuit dry cooling towers rely on air solely for cooling working fluid near dry-bulb air temperature. You need to maintain your commercial cooling tower for energy efficiency. 

Importance of Maintenance Of The Cooling Tower

You can prevent damage to the entire system because of corrosion and clogs by cleaning the cooling tower and treating the water within it.

However, you should know that you would still need to have the tower cleaned regularly even if you get water treatment performed. This will ensure the system remains free of microbes and bacteria. 

You should consider twice-yearly cleanings if you drain the towers in the winter because of a reduced need. This will allow you to get the most efficient use from the system when you refill it in warmer temperatures.

Biannual cleaning is required even if a tower is used all year round for preventing any fouling that may damage the system. 

Cleaning of the Cooling Tower

Cooling towers are bound to get filthy with the wind kicking up sand, leaves, dirt, and other debris. There is suddenly a thick layer of slime and sludge at the bottom of the tower within the basin. Dirty water in a cooling tower can foul tubes and clog fill media.

This is an efficient way of performing cooling tower cleaning:

1. Turn the cooling tower fans off

You need to power down the fans for the safety of the people cleaning the cooling tower. These spin at incredible speeds and can significantly cause harm or even kill a person.

2. Inspect for problem areas

You should inspect the cooling tower to identify areas that require attention. Check the cooling tower fill media for potential fouling. You should also look for sludge deposits in the hot water basin.

3. Use protective equipment for protection

Cooling tower systems involve heat and moisture which encourages legionella growth. Several other bacteria can cause harm to humans. Cleaners should use proper PPE with respiratory and eye protection. This will prevent you and your helping crew from getting sick while performing cooling tower maintenance. 

4. Spray to remove mold 

Cooling tower water is a hub for microbiological growth. It is recommended to treat the cooling tower’s surfaces and water with a mold-killing product. This will help in controlling mold as well as legionella bacteria. 

5. Vacuum sludge from the basin

There are specialized vacuums that can be used for removing sludge from the water basin and other components. You don’t need to shut down the cooling system or drain the tower basin for this step.

You may need to use a filter system for returning water to the cooling tower or connect it to a drainage outlet/power source.

6. Fill lost water to tower level

You cannot clean a cooling tower basin without some amount of makeup water. Hence, you should make sure the water levels are filled as per operating parameters after removing all the sludge. 

7. Clean fill media

Fill media is where the primary heat exchange occurs. It is the heart of the cooling tower. Air pulled in by the fans is directed by the fill to come in contact with hot water.

The distribution will be problematic if sections are clogged or fouled with dust or debris. This will result in diminished heat exchange efficiency, which causes the system to use more energy. You should clean the fill buildup with foam detergents or replace it if necessary. 

8. Schedule bi-annual cleaning

You should clean cooling towers completely at least twice a year. Most operators prefer doing this at the start of the year and when they shut the system down. You should consider scheduling some downtime if you need to run the cooling tower throughout the year. 

When Maintenance Is Required?

Cooling towers should be cleaned and maintained regularly. This is recommended during a low-use period, such as during the winters. The towers should be cleaned and maintained properly at the time of start-up. Further, towers with increased microbial growth should be disinfected and cleaned more frequently. 

As per OSHA recommendations, cleaning towers should be maintained at least twice yearly. Particular attention should be given to spring cleaning if the tower was shut down during a long winter.

However, the majority of facilities and businesses get their cooling towers cleaned every quarter for preventing potentially fatal Legionella illnesses.

The cost of frequent cleanings is typically offset by increased monetary savings in the form of energy bills. It also reduces the need to replace or repair any component because of failure. 

Steps To Improve Efficiency

One of the most important steps in preventative maintenance is performing routine cooling tower chlorination and cleaning. It enhances efficiency and ensures that the system runs without breaking down.

Most manufacturers recommend having the system cleaned at least twice a year. However, it is up to the facility engineer to design a maintenance program best suited for their equipment. 

There are multi-fold benefits to properly cleaning a cooling tower at the correct intervals. This includes saving dollars in repairs, energy usage, and premature replacement. 

These are a few steps you should take for improving efficiency:

  • Achieve effective residual with chlorination
  • Assure proper water distribution by cleaning hot decks orifices and spraying nozzles
  • Remove the louver and fill deposits by using the right cleaner
  • Using a high-pressure washer for washing down the tower basin and surfaces
  • Removing all deposits and sedimentation by vacuuming the tower sump
  • Disposal of debris 

How To Save Energy

Dissolved solids, like calcium carbonate and others, will keep moving through the cooling tower without creating scale deposits if the tower has proper chemical treatment.

Solids can dry and form deposits where the water spray meets with air. This is usually on the outer edges of the mist eliminators, fill, and inlet air louvers. 

Deposits can begin restricting or diverting airflow over time. This is counterproductive to a cooling tower’s natural evaporation action.

You need to remove the deposits to ensure your cooling tower functions as normal. Cooling towers can be inefficient if they have missing, plugged, or improperly operating nozzles. Proper spray patterns and water distribution are vital to cooling tower effectiveness. 

Schedule Cooling Tower Cleaning Today

Servi-Tek has a highly trained team that specializes in cleaning cooling tower systems and chillers.

Our team offers quick, thorough, and affordable tower cleaning services.

You can schedule preventative maintenance or call us in for damage control.

Give us a call at 866-454-6185 or use our online form for more information about our cooling tower cleaning and maintenance services.

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